Terry's Thoughts on Eclipse Awards and Upcoming Trip to South Africa
I attended the Eclipse Awards earlier this week - a nice event that brings everybody together to celebrate the achievements of the previous year. Our business is about accomplishing things and winning so it’s a great night to take a step back and recognize what everyone has done. It’s a night for winners.
West Point has connections to several of this year’s winners and nominees. We’ve had horses with Bill Mott, who won outstanding trainer, and Todd Pletcher, who was nominated in that category as well. We were pleased to see our good friend Claire Novak pick up her first media Eclipse Award, and we had another friend, Bob Mayberger, who won the award for outstanding photograph of the year.
Out of all the acceptance speeches that evening, I thought Ramon Dominguez did a really great job when he won outstanding jockey for the second year in a row. He’s such a thoughtful guy, a consummate professional who conducts himself the right way. He says the right things and knows what’s important in life. He’s won a lot of races for us and he always treats the Partners the right way. He’s a guy you’re really proud to be associated with and do business with.
Dogwood Stables founder Cot Campbell, of course, was one of the main reasons I went out and started a partnership. We were in full support of him getting an Eclipse Award of Merit and we’re very glad he got one this year. On behalf of all the partnerships in the country, thank God Cot came up with the idea in the early ‘60s. He’s been a tough competitor, but always classy.
I remember a funny story from when I first started WPT. I called Cot, and I think he thought I might have been a potential investor. I told him I was starting a partnership, getting out of the army. His tone changed a little bit, but he was still cordial. I said, “I’m going down for the Keeneland sale and I’d love to get together for lunch.” He said, “We’ll have a short conversation there, Mr. Finley, but we won’t have lunch.” I’m happy to say we’ve become better-acquainted since then.
I think one of things coming out of the Awards - I was thinking about it all night Monday - is that it’s guaranteed when we gather at Gulfstream Park in early 2013, we’ll look back and say “Man, that was not what I expected” about a category or two. There are horses right now running in allowance conditions that could jump up and be the 2012 Horse of the Year. I always say to myself, “What’s going to happen a year from now? Who will accept these awards for horses that kick ass in 2012?”
Onward to South Africa
Kip Elser has been making the trek to South Africa for quite a few years, and has good connections over there in relation to Thoroughbred racing and sales. Together we’re headed to the 2012 Cape Premier Yearling Sale in Cape Town. Click here to take a look at their catalogue.
On the sales company website, they also have information on interesting places of interest and events in Cape Town. Click here to view. I’m really looking forward to checking some of these places out.
Here at WPT, we continue to look to expand our horizons, looking for horses internationally rather than focusing solely on the North American breed. Since we made two purchases in Dubai in 2002 (one of which was the multiple graded stakes winner and sire Seattle Fitz), we’ve been to Ireland and Hong Kong, and we’re actively looking at horses in Argentina as well. I’m going to this sale in South Africa on Sunday, and within the next 12-18 months we’ll be in Australia as well. I wouldn't be surprised if we pick up a horse or two to campaign over there. Who knows, maybe it'll be the type of horse can bring to the States at some point.
We know we have to find sounder horses, and that’s part of the reason we’re going overseas. The stats are undeniable - we don’t produce as sound of a horse in North America as we did 30 years ago, no matter what people say. WPT had a sub-par year in 2011 keeping our horses sound, and obviously that affects a lot of things - our win percentage for one, but more importantly, how Partners look at our company and our industry as a whole.
I think it’s very important to try to do some things to get sounder horses running under the black and gold. We’re not going to sit in New Jersey (and everywhere else we run) and hope that the breeding industry eventually produces sounder horses. We’re going to lean forward in the foxhole and do our own thing.
I’ll be blogging from South Africa, so we sure to check back. I arrive on Sunday, January 22nd.
Have a great week.